Recently, my 36th or 37th trip down the Google rabbit hole late one night (Suggested new advertising campaign: “Can’t Sleep? Google.”) revealed yet another book I was unaware had just been published. The fine folks at the book division of Turner Classic Movies have released, just in time for Halloween, the latest book from David J. Skal, Fright Favorites. It’s a fun little book that made my heart glow and my goosebumps go all ultrasonic.
Fright Favorites is a profusely illustrated coffee table book of essays wherein Skal suggests “31 movies to haunt your Halloween.” Clearly, Skal is an authority on the subject, having written both the definitive history of Halloween (Death Makes a Holiday in 2002) and three of the most significant genre studies ever published (Hollywood Gothic in 1990, The Horror Show in 1993, and Screams of Reason in 1998*) It felt great to hold another Skal book in my hands. It felt great to hold anything in my hands; I’m still alive!
Fright Favorites is a nice introduction to the genre for young people who have just discovered horror movies as their new religion or a wonderful exercise in nostalgia for we seasoned fans. Beloved old chestnuts are not over represented (The classic Universal Monsters account for only six of the 31 films) and newer films like Get Out and Hereditary also get their due. I am so used to Skal’s style and approach in his other books that just sitting down and reading the forward here (“Halloween: A Hollywood State of Mind”) was like enjoying a coffee with an old friend. I love Skal’s choice of movies, I love the manner in which he writes about them, and I especially love the “If you enjoyed… you might also like...” section appended to each essay in which a more obscure film is suggested and described. It’s like getting 62 little movie essays for the price of 31. I found that I was so used to Skal writing about straight horror that his occasional forays writing about comedy here (Beetlejuice and Hocus Pocus are two of the films that made his cut.) were like little unexpected treats—the neighbor who gives out full-sized Snickers bars on Halloween, if you will.
Am I suggesting you purchase this book right now? Yes. Well, finish the column first.Halloween III. Nelkin was also cast as a sixth replicant in Blade Runner, but her part was cut from the film early in principal shooting for budgetary reasons. (My wife knew this, but of course, she has written a book on Blade Runner.) In high school, Nelkin dated a then-42-year-old Woody Allen; he based the February/December romance in Manhattan on his real-life relationship with Nelkin, though Allen insists they did not date each other until she was eighteen. The things one learns…